It was, therefore, no surprise to find that we were enjoying ourselves immensely with our hosts Chuck and Ginger in Denton. They had opened their home, a small apartment, not only to us, but to another guest, Anne, a journalist from Sweden. And of course there was Ruby (almost 3) and her brother Enzo (almost 2) who clearly loved having the company.
Couch surfing is a casual B 'n B (breakfast being optional on the part of the hosts) type of hosting travelers. No money is exchanged. It's a pay-it-forward kind of deal. One's bed may be a real guest room with bath, or as basic as the couch. It's up to the guest and the host, via the website, to come to an agreement regarding the stay. Everyone puts up their profile and both guests and hosts write reviews of their experiences on the site.
Our conversation in Denton ranged from school systems in the States and in Sweden, our respective jobs, learning Spanish, living in Amsterdam, photography, music, raising kids in a foreign country, GMOs, organic food, the Midwest, and so on. Chuck and Ginger are about 30 and their enthusiasm for living a simple life, spending lots of time with the children, and for the work ethic made me feel fortunate to have met them, and hopeful that we will again cross paths. We'd like to count this family in our circle of friends because it feels like knowing them would add immeasurably to our own lives.
Anne is traveling around the States, interviewing folks on a whole range of topics, taking photos, getting a feel for America. To be both outspoken and light hearted is a magical combination and so I hope she will take up my offer to contribute to this blog while she is here. She expressed disappointment in how little many people seem to know about President Obama's accomplishments, or how well he is viewed in Europe. And to hear her speaking about paying her share of taxes in Sweden as being part of her community made me wonder (not for the first time) why Americans are always complaining about high taxes while they scream about all the good roads, good schools, good parks, good postal service, etc. that they want their government to pay for. We can seem a selfish lot to those looking in. She isn't criticizing us, merely observing.
Here are a few pics of our trip home - bicycle wheels decorating a tree in one Couch Surfing host's back yard, Syed changing a flat on the way to Denton, the Denton town hall, Syed with our new Couch Surfing friends in Birmingham (lovely breakfast!). Now we're here in Salisbury and ready to start working but wondering if we'll get a request for hosting a Couch Surfer soon. Check out CouchSurfing.com.
|Bicycle Art In A Tree|
|Denton, TX Town Hall|
|Syed, Richey, and Yao in Birmingham|